Highlights from the

Herald Democrat

15 years ago

Subdivision plans in limbo

by Ann E. Wibbenmeyer

Herald Staff Writer

November 2, 2006

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The Lake County Board of County Commissioners has sent the Iron Hill Planned Unit Development (PUD) back to the planning and zoning commission.

Graeme Doyle, applicant for the subdivision through Seven Saints Land Company, said he wonders why the commissioners have acted against the unanimous approval of the planning and zoning commission, the approval of the applicable federal, state and local agencies, and the overwhelming support of the local community.

The high-density subdivision proposed for the empty lots across the street from Safeway went before the planning and zoning commission in a public hearing on Monday, Sept 11.

The commission recommended the sketch plan to the county commissioners for approval, with a set of conditions on that approval.

According to Commissioner Carl Schaefer, the land code says that a subdivision should follow the types and uses of the land surrounding. This information was not available at the planning and zoning commission meeting, he said at the BOCC regular meeting on Oct. 16. Having a residential use of the property does not fit with the zoning.

Doyle said that housing is quite often next to railways and commercial areas across the nation.

“We have spoken with Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue; none of these agencies have any problem with these aspects of the plan,” said Doyle in an email to the Herald.

One condition put on the PUD from the planning commission was for a barrier to be put up between the proposed residential area and Mallette Oil Co. and the railroad that runs behind the property.

Because the railroad is owned by Commission Chair Ken Olsen, he excused himself from the discussion.

Commissioner Mike Hickman reiterated in the BOCC meeting his concern about the neighboring property to the subdivision.

“Kids roam and play,” he said. “It is not good for them to live next to a fuel tank.” He also said that the railroad is licensed for explosives.

The subdivision would be completely enclosed by fences, he said, and the only exit would be through a major highway.

There is currently housing adjacent to the railroad property, said Doyle, and the Silver King Inn is a neighbor to Mallette Oil Co.

“A simple fence would separate the railway from the housing,” he said.

The more than 100 housing units proposed represent more than $20 million in investment in the community, said Doyle. A lot of that would go to local businesses and tradesmen.

“The Lake County development plan talks about the need to provide an environment to foster just this kind of investment within the existing infrastructure. We certainly comply with this vision,” he said.

At the meeting Hickman also noted that the open space also does not meet the 25 percent requirement.

The planning commission talked about the open space issue in the public hearing. They put a condition on the recommendation that the Mineral Belt Trail be connected to a bike path that would run through the residential subdivision in lieu of the extra open space.

According to Doyle, the land proposed for the subdivision will have mixed use, residential and commercial space, because there is not enough demand in the local economy for a 100-percent business development.

“Once the residential component is in place, the rest will follow,” he said.

Thanksgiving 2006

November 23, 2006

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Thanksgiving 2006 should be, we believe, a time of hope for Leadville and Lake County.

As we look through the past year, our biggest news, hands down, was the plans of Phelps Dodge to reopen the Climax Mine, probably in 2009. Yes, we know that this opening is contingent on many things, not the least of which is the recent merger of Phelps Dodge with Freeport-McMoRan which was announced this week.

At this point, we prefer to anticipate the mine’s opening and not focus on the fact that nothing is absolute.

Since that news was announced, we have perceived an uplift in the spirits of many Leadvillites. Our real estate market is doing great. Our summer tourist season was pretty good. Businesses are getting face lifts, and new shops are opening.

This doesn’t all relate to the opening of the mine. Leadville is being discovered and touted as the last affordable place to purchase Colorado mountain property. We welcome this attention even as we worry, a little, about what it could mean down the road.

We cannot say this has been a year without contention. Locally, the recent election had people taking sides on the fire board and on the commissioner’s race.

Most of us experienced a feeling of relief when we emerged from the polls, although not everyone is happy with the outcome. That’s the way it goes. We make our choices; we cast our votes; we live with the results. Or, we “wait ‘til next time.”

We hope all our readers find more things to be thankful for this year and fewer things to regret.

We appreciate hearing from you, even when your letters tear into us. Free speech, after all, is a two-way street. It doesn’t just apply to those who agree with us. And for that, we at the Herald are also thankful.

Marcia Martinek

Herald Editor

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